Saturday, October 3, 2009

Adjusting to fatherhood...

…and I thought I was busy back then with work and the fatigue brought about by the pregnancy! I was sure I’d have some free time to write a post a week, or every two weeks when the little man arrived. Gosh, being a mom is a FULL time job, and although we hear it all the time, one has to experience it to really understand the job of being a mom. SAHMs and WAHMs, kudos for keeping it together, sane and being successful at the 24/7 hour job we call motherhood!

I wanted to dedicate this post to all the dads (los padres) out there. I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time, and now that Lucas is watching Formula One with daddy, I have a few minutes to myself.

It’s hard at first to really understand how difficult it must be for the dads when a new little human being arrives. We have had about 40 weeks or so to bond with our babies in the womb, read up on the must dos/don’ts, clip helpful lists and converse with friends and family who gave us a ton of advice. Once the little person arrives, we are instantly in love, attached...most often our maternal instincts kick in and we know exactly what to do, even if we’ve never done it before.

While the journey is exciting in every way, this little person has a way of sucking the life out of you – so often we get moody, exhausted, name it. And who usually is the first to get the brunt of this whole new version of bitchy? Dad… Why don’t you wake up in the middle of the night? Why don’t you grow breasts and produce milk? Why don’t you figure out why baby is crying? You expect me to keep this house clean and watch after baby?...the bitchiness goes on and on.

Ladies, my advice to you is have PATIENCE with him! This is a whole new experience they’re going through; they’re afraid and unsure; feel a sense of abandonment since all your attention is on this new little person; feel a bit helpless since most new dads have never changed a diaper let alone held a newborn in their arms before; feel an enormous responsibility to work and create stability in the home now more than ever. We are so engulfed in our world of diapers that we often forget how challenging and difficult it is for the dad as well.

Now that the little man is over 2 months old, I learned a few things along the way that I now keep in mind before getting frustrated, which have also helped me avoid many arguments.

1) In the beginning there is very little he can do, so instead of resenting him or making him feel useless, I let him help me take care of other duties (cook, clean, ask for a foot massage, take care of the dog, etc.). These responsibilities will make him feel useful. Oh, and it was important to thank him for it as well.

2) It’s tough to run errands with a newborn, so when my husband came home from work, I would give him about an hour or two ALONE with baby to learn the ropes and take that little free time for yourself. This gave him a chance to get alone time with Lucas and helped him to figure things out when you’re not around. There is no better time for them to bond and for me to have some free time.

3) If he comes to you every time the baby cries and asks you “What’s wrong with him?”, be patient and give him a simple checklist. I learned this after a few frustrating sighs (1) is his diaper dirty? (2) is he hungry? (3) does he have a burp or gas? (4) is he sleepy? …and I repeated the same list as often as I needed to. He would ask it every time the baby cried for the first month or two, but eventually he worked out the process of elimination without asking me.

4) Don’t expect them to be emotionally attached to baby yet. It will take them some time – remember we have a 40 week advantage.

5) Lastly, and most importantly, if you ask him to help and be with baby while you’re tending to other things at home – don’t come back and check on him every second. Trust him to be able to handle it on his own, and let him make mistakes too. Believe me, I’ve seen what a habit it becomes if you are constantly looking over his shoulder. It also makes you more paranoid when you leave him alone

“Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.”